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"Every love is carved from loss."

A wondrous thing occurred in 2002. It was the publication of a book written by Jonathan Safran Foer called, Everything is Illuminated. This luminous thing dwelt on my bookshelf for many years until one of you mentioned it a few days ago, prompting me to pull it from my shelf and now, NOW a powerful example of how imagination is more important than knowledge dwells within me. One Hundred Years of Solitude has been bumped to number two on my all time favorite books list.

everythingisWhen it is not possible to know where we come from, or who our great-great-great-great-great grandmothers were, and when it is not possible to make sense of human suffering, we can create ineffable stories bordering on magical realism that are more true than the truth. From failure, wondrous things can bloom, from loss, love and beauty are born, from darkness, illumination occurs.

I hope that you are not too jaded, dear readers, to take this book to bed with you, because if you are an artist (and you are) and if you are a writer (and you are) then you need to know how the impossible is possible. You need this knowledge to dwell and swell within you.

Listen, this young American man went to Ukraine to find the woman who may (or may not) have helped his grandfather escape from the Nazis. He was only 20, and ill prepared for this task. He had only a photograph, a first name, and the name of a small village that no longer exists. He took a few scraps of something real and found or created a legendary great-great-great-great-great grandmother, a village, a history and he wove it all into true events in human history and told a story that is more efficacious than the truth.

This idea is not new. Tim O'Brien showed us this in The Things They Carried, and others long before him have demonstrated this as well. But you have not seen it on the level that Foer has given. You have not seen anything so luminous. Take a pencil with you on this journey, because you will want to underline numerous passages, and you will want to document the strange dreams you will have after you have read these passages, you will want to nurse the spell it casts on you, you will want to lie underneath the stars and feel the aftershocks of this book contract through your being.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 23rd, 2011 04:43 am (UTC)
It's a good book. :^)

I liked the concept of the sixth sense being memory.
Jan. 23rd, 2011 04:49 am (UTC)
Wasn't it you who mentioned this book recently?
Jan. 23rd, 2011 05:00 am (UTC)
I did mention watching the movie recently. "Jonfen" and I watched it and I wrote about it on Facebook. :^)
Jan. 23rd, 2011 05:06 am (UTC)
I watched the movie today and thought it was crap. I regret watching it because I fear it displaced some of the effect the book was having on me. I like the character that played Alex, though. Other than that, it was totally a one-dimensional experience compared to the book.
Jan. 23rd, 2011 05:42 pm (UTC)
See, I saw the movie before I read the book and it was more like, "Wow, these are totally different." I think the book confused me a bit because of the movie...
Jan. 23rd, 2011 10:57 pm (UTC)
What a marvelous review. I have it, but haven't read it yet. I saw the movie years ago but don't remember too much of the specifics.

It's rare that I watch before reading, but I think a friend picked it and I had no idea there was a book.
Jan. 24th, 2011 01:56 am (UTC)
The book is magical.
Jan. 24th, 2011 11:19 pm (UTC)
wonderful review and "every love is carved from loss" is just extraordinary.
Jan. 27th, 2011 03:01 am (UTC)
This last part of the last paragraph is something I'm always trying to do, though I usually feel like I don't quite get there.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )